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Mavericks’ Dorian Finney-Smith’s season-high 17 lead Mavs past Kings 99-79

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DALLAS (AP) — Even after scoring a season high in points, Dorian Finney-Smith wanted to talk about his defense.

The rookie had 17 points, leading six Dallas players in double figures as the Mavericks beat the Sacramento Kings 99-79 Sunday.

The Mavericks, who lost to Sacramento by 31 points at home 11 days ago, started fast. They made 11 of their first 15 shots and never trailed.

Later, some of his teammates teased him for passing up open shots.

“When I get a hand on a ball or a tip, it gets me going,” Finney-Smith said. “I try not to lose focus on what I bring to the table, and that’s defense. If I’m making shots, that’s a plus.”

Deron Williams, Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews each scored 15 for Dallas.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 33 for Sacramento. The Kings were minus second-leading scorer Rudy Gay, who missed his third consecutive game because of a strained right hip flexor.

A 10-0 Mavericks run early in the second quarter opened a 38-26 lead and the Kings never got closer than nine for the remainder of the game.

“We’ve got to come out and be the aggressor, that’s just plain and simple,” Cousins said. “We can’t get off to slow starts. We can’t let a team gain confidence. We’ve got to be the aggressors every night.”

It was barely 30 degrees in Dallas and the start time was moved up three hours to 3 p.m. – that avoided a conflict with the Cowboys, whose home game against Tampa Bay was originally scheduled for the daytime and later switched to night.

Following a 120-89 home loss to the Kings on Dec. 7, the Mavericks called a team meeting. They’ve won three of four at home since then and are 3-3 overall.

“We remember (the loss), but the biggest thing is that our demeanor has to be like this every night,” Matthews said.

TIP-INS

Kings: Cousins had 23 of Sacramento’s 44 points in the first half. … Ty Lawson was the only other Sacramento player in double figures, with 10 points.

Mavericks: The Kings scored just 14 points in the third quarter, a season low for a Mavericks opponent. … Williams had seven assists and passed current Dallas television analyst Derek Harper for 21st place on the NBA’s all-time assists list with 6,584.

HARRIS A HERO

Devin Harris had a season-high 14 points and seven rebounds for the Mavericks. He made a three-point play and a four-point play to cap a 12-2 Dallas run that gave the Mavs a 76-56 lead with 2:33 left in the third quarter.

Harris had missed the team’s first 16 games with a sprained right big toe.

“When he feels good physically, he moves with joy out there,” coach Rick Carlisle said.

LET IT BEE

Kings coach Dave Joerger called for a truce in an ongoing spat between Cousins and the Sacramento Bee newspaper. Cousins recently confronted a Bee writer after a column that referenced the arrest of the 6-foot-11 star’s brother.

“This guy is the face of our franchise,” Joerger said. “He’s done and said some things that he wishes he could do over. He has improved.”

“I’m not justifying anything that he’s done. What he did was excessive. But enough is enough,” he said.

TRIBUTE TO SAGER

The Mavericks joined the list of NBA teams to hold a moment of silence before their game in honor of TNT broadcaster Craig Sager, who died Thursday. Team owner Mark Cuban remembered Sager fondly before the game.

“Smiles are underrated,” Cuban said. “Nice is underrated. Getting people to smile every time – that’s something not a lot of people have been able to accomplish.”

 

Wizards’ Markieff Morris puts Marreese Speights in poster with dunk (VIDEO)

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The Washington Wizards have won 5-of-6 after upsetting the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday, 117-110. They did it mostly because they just shot the rock better — Washington was a strong 18-of-49 from the midrange.

Of course, you shoot a high percentage when dunking.

Which is what Markieff Morris did with authority early in the fourth quarter — he got the ball in the post with Austin Rivers on him (a total mismatch), Morris spun off him and went to the rim hard. Marreese Speights tried to rotate over but things went poorly for him.

Mavs’ Seth Curry with no-look, behind-the-back pass to Finney-Smith (VIDEO)

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Seth Curry seemed to be on a mission Sunday to show his old team what they missed out on. The Dallas backup guard made a few plays, put up some points early, and generally was a positive influence against Sacramento.

That includes making this sweet no-look, behind-the-back dish to Dorian Finney-Smith.

 

 

Report: Thunder could get point guard Cameron Payne back by end of month

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Someone — anyone — who can provide a little rest for Russell Westbrook (and keep the offense afloat while he’s sitting) is needed in Oklahoma City.

Enter Cameron Payne. The second-year point guard was good enough as a rookie to take the backup job from veteran D.J. Augustine, but he has missed all of this season following a fractured foot (not the first time for this injury with him). Now it looks like the Thunder could get him back in the coming weeks. Via Chris Haynes of ESPN.

OKC could use Payne back on the court. He averaged five points a game last season, but his game seemed to develop this summer where he was impressive in the Orlando Summer League this year averaging 18.8 and four assists per game.

When Westbrook is on the court, Oklahoma City has an offensive rating of 106.3 points per 100 possessions, which would be ninth in the NBA this season. When he is off the court, that falls to 92.9 per 100, which would be the worst in the NBA by a large margin. That load is starting to wear on Westbrook, he’s shooting 39.7 percent in his last 10 games. And there has been frustration. Payne getting healthy and improving the offense while Westbrook rests would be huge for the Thunder.

Damian Lillard after blowout loss to Warriors: “We have to play with some damn heart”

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The Portland Trail Blazers have the worst defense in the NBA. Bar none. They are allowing 110.4 points per 100 possessions this season.

So it shouldn’t be a shock that when the Portland defense ran into the powerful Golden State offense (114 points scored per 100 this season), the result was a blowout Warriors win, 135-90. Golden State went on a 9-0 run midway through the first quarter and never looked back, while the Portland offense (as it has done too much this season) devolved into guys pounding the ball and everyone else standing around and watching.

After the game, Damian Lillard called out himself and his teammates (via Chris Haynes of ESPN).

“Man, it’s OK to turn the ball over, it’s OK to make mistakes, but we have to play with some damn heart and compete out there,” he said of his teammates…

“This isn’t about what the coaches are doing, this is on us,” Lillard said to ESPN in retelling what he stated to his teammates. “We have to take responsibility for what’s going on. This s— is ridiculous. We’ve got the talent; we’ve just got to put it together consistently.”

He wasn’t alone.

“This is unacceptable, no matter who you’re playing against, champions or not,” C.J. McCollum told ESPN. “You have to be ready to play and perform and compete, and I don’t think we did any of those things today.”

Portland’s defensive slide is a little surprising. It’s not shocking because team struggled defensively last season (20th in the NBA) but they had most of the same players back in the same system. The problems with the Blazers defense is not about scheme, it’s personnel — with Lillard and McCollum they have undersized guards, and their big men are not the most mobile, so off the pick-and-roll they need to hang back to try to protect the rim. The result is the opposition having too much room to operate, and they have options on how to attack.

Portland’s defensive woes haven’t impacted the offensive end too much, but on the nights that the frustration boils over the losses can get ugly. And the Warriors frustrate a lot of teams.